Research Projects

Student Scholarship Recognition Day (SSRD) is held each spring to celebrate the exemplary scholarship and creativity of Willamette University students. Students work directly with faculty members or design and conduct their own research throughout the year.

Featured Projects

Here are a few projects that exemplify the wonderful research students from the Psychology department have done over the years.

Abstract: I will explore the perspectives and experiences of the funeral directors and other professionals at Virgil T. Golden Funeral Services based on qualitative ethnographic research. I hope to answer my question: Given that funeral directors deal with death and grief on a daily basis, how do they process their experiences? I will rely heavily on sociologist Erving Goffman's dramaturgical theory of backstage and frontstage, which describes the physical and behavioral separation of preparation and performance, to analyze how funeral directors compartmentalize their work to mitigate compassion fatigue. The analysis will be expanded upon by other research and my own fieldwork.

Jaelin Sonoda (2020)

Abstract: Populism is a political framework that transcends the traditional liberal/conservative divide; it is associated with homogeneity and anti-elitist, anti-pluralistic sentiments. It has become increasingly relevant in recent years, due to its rapidly rising appeal in the United States and Europe. This presentation explores which underlying psychological factors might be associated with an individual’s affinity towards a populist framing of political issues. Specifically, the relationships between a newly-developed populism scale, Big Five personality traits, moral values, disgust sensitivity, life satisfaction, self-esteem, and Positive and Negative Affect (PANAS) in a sample of Willamette students are analyzed.

Rosalind Fraser (2019)

Abstract: Social involvement and academic achievement have been independently examined in relation to the well-being of college students. However, little research has explored the relationship of their combined influence on well-being. In this study, we examine how social and academic factors correlated to the well-being of college students across two years, analyzing both institutional data and self-reports. Multiple regression was utilized to examine these factors individually and in combination on well-being. Our questions were: How strongly related are the social and academic factors? Do these factors combine to predict well-being? Is perceived or actual academic performance a better predictor?

Allison Whitby, Lucan Cohen, Jeremy Hansen, Madison Montemayor (2016)

Additional Research Projects

These are all the projects the Psychology department has presented at SSRD in the last few years.


  • Graph Literacy Training Program: A Pilot Study - Tova Hershman (Thesis)
  • Exploration of Populist Appeal: A Psychological Approach - Rosalind Fraser (Thesis)
  • Hippotherapy: Evidence Review & Recommendations - Paige Yeakle (Thesis)
  • Trait Mindfulness as a Mediator Linking Adult Attachment Orientation to Well-Being in Emerging Adults - Lyndsey Shimazu
  • Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Peer Support and Depression in Adolescents - Paige Fredenburg
  • Evaluation of an Outpatient Dual-Diagnosis Treatment Program for Individuals Being Released from Prison - Paige Fredenburg


  • The Effects of Acute Stress on Auditory Selective Attention: An ERP Investigation - Kendra Good (Thesis)
  • Face-to- Face and Electronic Victimization on Adjustment During Adolescence - Aaron Oda (Poster)
  • Predictors of distress regarding sexual difficulties - Lev El-Askari, Izzabella Green, Kyle Stephenson (Poster)
  • Sexual satisfaction and sexual function in men: Associations with attachment avoidance - Lyndsey Shimazu, Kyle Stephenson, John Paul Welch (Poster)
  • Child Demographics and Maltreatment Type: A Function of Referral Source, Type of Evaluation, & Whether Children Were Seen at a Child Abuse Assessment Center - Jordan Fickas & Meredyth Goldberg Edelson (Poster)
  • Exploring the role of visual imagery in the survival processing effect - Jeremy K. Miller, Kate Morris, Lydia Savelli, Qi Ying Wang (Poster)


  • An Evaluation of Scientific Reasoning and Critical Thinking Modules for Introductory Psychology (Oral Presentation) - Brenna Smelt (Independent Research)
  • Personality Change and Ideal-Current Discrepancies Across the Study Abroad Experience (Poster Presentation) - Erin Bresnahan, Clara Hochstetler, Bryce Withy-Berry (Poster)
  • Sexual Dysfunction Moderates the Association Between Sexual and Relationship Satisfaction (Poster Presentation) - Jonathan Kerth (Poster)
  • The Willamette Experience: How Academic and Social Factors Influence Well-Being (Poster Presentation) - Allison Whitby, Lucan Cohen, Jeremy Hansen, Madison Montemayor (Poster)
  • Longitudinal Relations Between Personality Traits and Social Adjustment in College (Poster Presentation) - Kate Zurschmeide (Poster)


  • Personality Traits in Everyday Life: How Situational Characteristics Relate to Trait-Relevant Behavior Across Adulthood - Charleen Gust (Independent Research)
  • Associations between Pre-College, and College Friendships and Young Adults Authenticity after their First Year of College - Laura Cullen (Independent Research)
  • Reducing Memory Conformity: The Effect of Perceived Study Time on the Own-Race Bias - Alexandra Babij (Independent Research)
  • Ethnic Bias in the Classroom: How Teacher Expectations Influence Achievement - Shannon Cain (Independent Research)
  • Changes in Big Five Personality Traits of Japanese Students Across the Study Abroad Experience - Meghan Merwin, Madison Montemayor (Poster)
  • Connectedness to Nature and Environmental Behavior: A Cross- Cultural Examination of Japanese and U.S. students. - Maximilian Kroner Dale, Anna Neshyba (Poster)
  • Comparing the Values in Action and Big Five Personality Taxonomies: The Overlap of the VIA and Big Five in Predicting Life Outcomes. - Emily Thimesch (Poster)
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